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On the Horizon: Human Connections in APAC and Beyond

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Nicolle Sing
Nicolle Sing

Director of Client Services

FreemanXP APAC

How digital trends bring us and our worlds closer together

While trends may come and go, they often represent important societal barometers that warrant our attention. Staying mindful of trends in our own markets and across the world helps marketers keep up with the speed of culture. Moreover, understanding how current trends can potentially affect business enables us to remain relevant and responsive. 

In the APAC market, which comprises one of the largest and most diverse populations in the world, we see many trends originating. Interestingly, we’re watching the prevalence of digital trends come full circle. The collective drive to digitize every aspect of our world has in turn made us crave more human-centric connections. 

This intriguing, counterintuitive shift is great news for the experiential space where digital and face-to-face interactions come together to create meaningful connections. 

Here are three ways human-centric trends are evolving brand experiences and how we design them:

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Global communication and accessibility

As consumers become more digitally connected, discerning, and well-traveled, access to other countries and cultures grows. This evolution has heightened the need for global brands to seek unified relevance (and communication) across the world rather than a single location.    

Across a region as diverse as APAC, there are many factors making streamlined communication challenging: 

  • Disparities of digital penetration
  • Varying levels of affluence
  • Myriad languages
  • Fluctuating economies 

Because of these hurdles, global brands have often created varied messages for each country. These days, however, those event messages are being centralized to ensure consistency for consumers. Fortunately, digital access helps brands close those gaps and even the playing field. 

So if the overarching idea is “Our brand makes your life better,” then that communication will be localized with specifics about how that company makes life better specifically in India, Malaysia, Thailand, and so on. 

Persistent communication helps brands connect with targeted consumers on a more human level, as it shows the brand knows its varied audiences and markets intimately.

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Another way we stay connected as humans is through stories. In our business, we preach the power of storytelling to create meaningful moments between brands and consumers, and between consumers and each other. 

To help our clients evolve this approach, we constantly explore new storytelling methods that connect us through shared human experiences. 

Of course, it’s essential to have an authentic story that communicates your brand mission and builds a connection with your audience. Our motto? Creating a brand experience without a story is like building a brand without an identity — you can’t have one without the other! 

As long as you know what you the story is, the sky’s the limit on how many ways you can tell it. And today, that means bringing in some digital fireworks. Step up your storytelling game and create richer brand experiences by incorporating: 

These digital bells and whistles allow the audience to engage directly with your story and even add their own elements to personalize the message. We all have screens, but the power lies in being in a live space and interacting with people (and screens) in real time. 

Make sure you’re using digital in meaningful ways to help illustrate your story rather than going high-tech merely for the cool factor — if the digital element doesn’t make sense for your brand or audience, the story will get lost. When used in ways to help tell your story better, digital can bring communities together and truly connect us. 

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From me to we

The idea that digital access brings us closer and builds human connections also affects how consumers seek out brands. While previous generations learned about brands through traditional advertising, today’s audiences educate themselves through online research, recommendations from friends, and endless commenter reviews. 

Modern consumers also want to understand what brands stand for and what they’re doing to better the world. That puts the onus on brands to expand their message in ways that go beyond online reviews to highlight the humanity and meaning behind their intention. 

In APAC, we’re seeing this human-centric shift across many industries, but particularly in finance, both as a business and culture. 

Since almost all consumer financial transactions could happen digitally, there are fewer reasons to visit a physical bank. To evolve with this change, banking brands are rethinking their marketing and brand experience approaches to show who they are and what makes them an asset to society. They want to be known as a trustworthy partner who can help you achieve your needs in life more easily. That includes a human element that makes them real and approachable. 

Evolving the narrative from “me” product messaging to a focus on “we” solutions benefits the customer and society at large. 

The inevitable shift of living in a digitally integrated world is making us look at what it means to be human. And it’s making us rethink the role digital plays in our lives. The best part of this shift is learning together how we can continue to use digital in positive ways. With the right balance, we fulfill our fundamental emotional need to connect personally with the world, our experiences, and the people around us. 

Feeling trendy? Keep your events on point by exploring the Freeman Trend Lab website.

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